Finding Ava. . .part 3 of 3- back to the beginning

Our entire adoption process with Ava took about four years and seven months.  Although it seemed sudden, it actually was a very long journey.  It was 2012 when Phil and I felt a very strong desire to add to our family through adoption.

For every meal, car ride, vacation, or family activity, we all had something similar to say. . .”someone is missing.”  I would do a head count because it just seemed like we had left someone behind or were missing someone.

“Someone is missing”

As both an adoptive and biological mother, I can tell you that all of my children were conceived within me.  God placed my biological children in my belly and He placed my adopted children in my heart.  All long before they made their appearance in our arms.

The desire to have another child and the love I felt for her long before I even knew she was a girl who had blond hair and blue eyes grew beyond measure.  I fell madly and deeply in love with her.

That love for the unknown fuels a passionate drive in an adoptive parent.  When you are pregnant- you have a time frame.  You know your child will come to you as a newborn.  You don’t know their hair color or eye color or facial features, but you know some of their genetic make up and therefore can imagine a little bit of what you will see upon their birth.  You know that you have approximately 40 weeks to prepare and can plan on meals, clothing, furniture, diapers, etc.  You know you won’t be pregnant for 2 or 3 or 4 or more years.  You have a few certainties amongst many uncertain moments when pregnant.


When you are expecting a child through adoption– you do not have a time line.  You do not know if you will bring home a child in two weeks, two months, or two years.  You do not know the gender, eye, hair or even skin color.  You do not even know the genetic make up that may lend certain characteristics to your child.  You may not even know the age of your next child.  Buying clothes, furniture and diapers are many times gathered together in a last minute basket of details that will take place after your child comes home.  You can take on the task of preparing and freezing meals ahead of time- but then after six months you start to defrost and eat them so they don’t waste to freezer burn.

The “paper pregnancy” is hard.  Worse than any hyperemesis I’ve ever experienced with my biological pregnancies.

The adoption process is emotional, exciting, heart breaking, exhilarating, and exhausting all at the same time.  Yes, it is exactly like that rollercoaster ride you hear about.  So why do we do it?  Why?

“So why do we do it? ” Why did we want to adopt?

Because we have a child. . . in our hearts. . .that we must find.  And we will search, and run, and fight, and sweat, and bleed, and cry, and scream, and work until we find them.

That is the only way I could describe it to my friends.  I had a child out there somewhere.  I didn’t know if they had even been conceived.  But I knew they were placed in my heart and the love is NO different from that of the children that grew in my belly.


Phil and I made a habit of having family prayer each night no matter the circumstances.  We would grab hands with our children and stand in a circle and pray.  We would plead with God to hold on to our child’s birth mom and keep her safe.  We would pray for our child.  We would pray for our children standing with us and very graciously joining us on this incredible journey.  We would pray and ask God to clear our debt and bring the money to bring our child home to us.  We would pray that God would fill the empty chair at the table.  We would pray for strength to endure the process.

Our adoption journey began to open our eyes to our own adoption by God.  His sacrifice and love to bring us home to Him is overwhelming.  And with each step, both joyous and painful, we were brought to that moment of saying YES all over again.  How much did we love this child unknown?  How much suffering would we endure to find her?  How much would we lose to gain her presence into our lives?  How much would we endure to answer God’s call to drop our lives for another?

We could say all of those same things about God’s adoption of His children.  He said Yes when he put his child on the cross to suffer and take away our sins.   He endured to bring us home.  His love is that great.  Sometimes almost seeming foolish, yes.  We cannot fathom His love and mercy and grace.  And our tiny little journey to bringing home Ava began to mirror our savior’s story of adopting us into His family.  His great story gave us HOPE for our little story.  And our HOPE in his story was our strength to continue each step by step.

But answering the call and following Christ comes at a cost.  Sometimes a great cost.  And for our family- we learned we would suffer greatly as payment for answering the call to adoption.

It started with the death of a neighbor.  Followed by the death of one of our breeding dogs.  The rolling sorrow of death and loss began to pick up momentum the closer we got to finding Ava.   At each new “yes” in the form of a signature, sacrifice of a vacation or giving up cable or going out to eat.  Each time we made a small step towards our goal- we endured suffering.

I recall breaking down when our close neighbor, who was like a grandpa to the kids, suddenly passed away.  It just felt like our world was beginning to crumble in upon us.

“Were we nuts?”  “Were we following Christ in obedience or were we simply infatuated with the idea of adoption?”

We began to wonder if we were simply pushing something God wasn’t asking of us.  After losing cattle, dogs, puppies, a horse, money, our health. . .we were breaking down.

Just a few months into our journey, I learned I had diabetes.  I remember breaking down and crying- knowing this would most likely end our ability to adopt.  I had read about people being denied due to health issues.  But in the end- it was a stumbling block- not a concrete wall.  After getting my blood sugar under control- I knew we would continue the journey.  Just a little more work. . .that’s all.  Always a little more. . .

Next, Phil required knee surgery.  The medical costs were daunting and we wondered if we would ever regain the funds to adopt.  Our child we were so desperately searching for seemed to be slipping from our finger tips.

We decided we needed to work harder.  I don’t ever want Ava to read about her story and think that we endured and suffered and harbored regret.  On the contrary…we want her to read her story and read about the suffering and hard work and see just how much we love her and wanted her and chased after her to bring her home to us!


Instead of focusing on every challenge we faced- I want to bring to light how God brought us through discouragement, sorrow, loss and suffering to a point of rejoicing, being renewed to walk the hard path of adoption.

We took on more puppy litters for a year to bring in the funds to prepare for Ava to come home.  Each morning seemed like a monstrous challenge.  I would enter the puppy nursery that was wall to wall- floor to ceiling puppy poo and cry out to God.  Let me tell you- we worked HARD to find Ava.  We physically worked our fingers to the bone.  We worked until it hurt and then we would push past the pain until we didn’t feel anything.  We were exhausted as we put in extra hours to bring in the funds.  And when I wanted to throw in the towel- God would send me a song.  I would turn up the radio and every time. . .He would speak to me in song.

Music has always been a huge way for me to worship and cry out to God as well as be refreshened, nourished and encouraged.

God always knew the perfect song to play at just the right moment.  My list that sometimes still plays can bring on a flood of tears and joy all at the same time.  We had a theme song to our adoption for Ava. “Thrive” by Casting Crowns.  My mind would be fuming in anger for the suffering we were enduring.   My heart would be breaking for the child I was missing and when I felt my soul was about to give out. . .that song. . .”Thrive” would start to play and I would sing through the tears until I was shouting and praising God.  Poopy gloves lifted high in the sky- my smile would return and God would give me every bit of endurance needed to finish the task at hand.

My play list:

  • Thrive, by Casting Crowns
  • Amos Story, by Aaron Ivy / Austin Stone Worship
  • You Make Me Brave, by Bethel Music and Amanda Cook
  • It is Well, by Bethel Music and Kristene DiMarco
  • God of The Impossible, by Everfound
  • While I’m Waiting, by John Waller
  • Orphan, by John Waller
  • Breathe,  by Jonny Diaz
  • Farther Along, Josh Garrels
  • Soar, by Meredith Andrews
  • Worn, by Tenth Avenue North
  • Good Fight, by Unspoken
  • How He Loves, by David Crowder Band
  • God Is On The Move, by 7eventh Time Down
  • Promises, by 7eventh Time Down

Adoption is not just a journey.  It is a fight, a war.  When you put your yes on the line and your heart is poured out on the alter before God, you are fighting against a very powerful force that would love to devour you before you can carry out God’s plan and purpose in your life.  Adoption is God’s calling.  And Satan would love to destroy you and this calling.  So how does one even begin to fight in such a battle.

First, armor up.  The Bible tells us to put on the FULL armor of God.  Not just the helmet or the breastplate.  No, ALL parts of the armor.  Keep truth next to your heart.  Memorize verses, have a theme song to inspire you to keep going.  Write verses and quotes and place them throughout your house.  Never stop praying.  Never stop talking to God.  Never stop praising God and thanking Him for the miracle around the corner.  Speak biblical truths to yourself so it becomes louder than the discouragement in your head.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

And just when you think all is lost. . .just when you want to lay your head down and never get back up. . .THAT is when God shows up and He shows up big.  God does not always move when you ask.  But when He does. . .He moves quickly!

Today we celebrated Ava’s second birthday.  It’s been 2 years since I received that phone call on a Wednesday afternoon telling us of a baby girl born and needing a family.  “Are you interested?  Do you want her?”

Do we want her?  We’ve never wanted anything more.

 

 

Why We Talk About the Death of our Child. . .

Today is February 1st, which means we are going into a month surrounded by everything “Heart.”

Valentine’s Day is upon us and along with the pink and red, we bring awareness to other things heart such as Women’s Heart Health, heart attack prevention, signs and symptoms of a failing heart.  We see the celebrities and political pleas to learn more about the heart as a woman.

But this month, I’d like to bring awareness to CHD’s, or Congenital Heart Defects which is actually something very close to my own heart.  

A Congenital Heart Defect is an abnormally formed and functioning heart.  Many CHD’s are now detected prior to birth through routine sonograms, however, many are not detected allowing babies to go home with life threatening defects.

In 1997, our son William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which went undiagnosed until it was too late.  As a result, William suffocated and died.  If only his echocardiogram was performed, we would have had options.  

We have learned so much about HLHS over the past twenty years, but not enough to prevent it or in many cases successfully treat it.  Raising awareness means getting a dialog going about demanding prenatal fetal echocardiograms and neonatal echocardiograms as routine testing prior to any discharge from the hospital.  Early detection means a greater chance of success in treating and beating CHD’s.

We know this first hand as our youngest son, Nathan received an echocardiogram prior to having stomach surgery at one month old.  His testing revealed a heart defect known as Fenestrated Atrial Septal Defect, which is basically multiple small holes in the heart.  He is doing great right now and is just 2 weeks away from his next echocardiogram to see how he is progressing.

After the death of William, each of our children received routine echo’s to rule out any CHD’s.  Unfortunately, many babies are still being sent home with dangerous and life threatening CHD’s.

We talk about our son’s death not to scare parents, but to make you aware that CHD’s are more common than you think and prevention can save lives.  Please take our experience and tragedy as an opportunity to start a dialog about bringing testing to light and making sure that each parent makes it their own priority to insist on these tests prior to leaving the hospital with that beautiful brand new baby.

Let’s keep February a heart month by having a heart for those living with, fighting and overcoming Congenital Heart Defects!

 

 

finding Ava. . .part 1

It was a typical busy Wednesday at Lamgo Farms.  And by “typical” I mean, I was managing the household on approximately 2 hours of sleep within a 48 hr period with two litters of puppies born two nights in a row; and my run without showering was now teetering on day 4.  But it was Wednesday, Guitar lesson day. . .and we tried to never miss out on music days that also coincided with an opportunity at a drivers Ed lesson.  So I slapped on some perfume, threw the hair up in a messy bun and out the door we ran.

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My hour sitting outside of Jacob’s guitar lesson was normally dedicated to either writing or working on email.  But only eight minutes after pulling out my laptop, the phone rang. “Tina” from our adoption agency lit up the screen. My hands fumbled as I tried to answer in a Hurry.

 

THE call.

 

If you are on the journey to adoption, you have dreamt of that moment when you get “the call.” I had played it over and over again in my mind. The match, the call I would make to my husband. But no matter how much I prepared for the moment at hand, the actual call was a complete surprise and handed down from God.

 

“Hi Sandi, so we have a baby girl that was born this morning around 4:30am. . .the social worker called us and she is yours if you want her.”

 

I jotted down a few bits of information on a wadded up Burger King receipt still on the dash-board, and then I said, “ I better ask Phil. I’ll call you right back.”

 

A little flash back:

 

Friday, the week before, I received an email from Tina asking for us to update our documents for the file. She was presenting us to a birth mom who was expecting a little baby girl. My heart wanted this so bad, but over a years’ time, we endured 4 failed matches. The desire to quit was strong in our hour of sorrow. So I prayed. I asked God to please have the birth mom choose someone else if we were headed for another failed adoption. We just couldn’t endure another loss. So if we were going to lose this baby- I wanted to lose it before I could get attached. It would be a let down not to have been chosen. . .. but that was far better than opening up that heart only to be hurt again.

 

I then, kneeling at the corner of our unmade bed. . . begged my God. I asked Him that if He wanted us to continue this adoption journey- to simply allow a phone call with a baby already born. No waiting time involved. I then took out my stack of ‘prayer cards turned prayer papers turned prayer notebook’ and wrote down the request.  The papers take me back four years.  Check marks beside the answered and miracles. . .one request still stood.  “Lord, please bring home our baby or babies.”

 

According to the agency- the birth mom was going to make her decision on Wednesday. Wednesday. . .Guitar lesson day.  This very Guitar lesson day.

 

Seeing Tina’s name on my phone wasn’t a surprise that day because we expected to hear back either way about this birth mom. But I could have never guessed the reason she had called. I could have never guessed that the original birth mom chose another family and then once that baby was born, decided to parent. I could have never guessed that God heard my prayer that night and not only did He spare us from the loss of another failed match. . .but that He also heard the specifics of my cry. He handed us a little girl, already born. . . Check.

 

Dialing Phil’s phone was one of the most joyous moments of my life:

 

Phil answered the phone and I responded, “It’s a girl!!!!” He said, “ok.” No excitement or surprise or anything.   He thought we had been chosen by the birth mom. “No honey. . .We have a girl!!!!”

 

Silence

 

I went on to tell him the story:

A displaced young woman, painfully addicted to drugs called the paramedics as she went into labor.  Staying at a friends’ house, she left in the early morning to make a call from a nearby gas station.  She was taken to one hospital who refused to help her, and then ended up at another, better hospital. 40 minutes later, a little girl entered the world.

 

Her birth mother looked at her, but didn’t hold her. It was too hard. The baby was whisked away and given oxygen.

 

She appeared to be about 4 to 5 weeks early. Since no prenatal care was given, her gestational age was estimated.

 

This sweet little girl was only hours old, but tested positive for heroin and later tested positive for meth. But she was perfect in every way.

 

I went on to give him The basics: Birth mom was white and although there was no knowing who the birth father was, it appeared that he was white as well. This little girl was a tiny blond with blue eyes.

 

Before I even finished the statistics. . .”YES! Ok, YES! Call Tina back now!”

 

Our decision to adopt this little girl took approximately 15 seconds. A baby girl. . .already born.

 

I called and texted Tina, hung up the phone and cried.

 

I’m crying now just writing this. I’m sitting beach side while Phil is holding our sleeping daughter.  Our daughter.

If there was one thing I’ve learned during this adoption journey. . .it was that nothing…and I mean absolutely NOTHING goes according to plan.

Our adoption journey has been hard.  And I just want to stop and interject here for those either just starting the journey or traveling rough roads.  IT IS WORTH IT! DON’T QUIT!  Stay the course!  Cling to God!  Stand and be strong.  Have courage.  Have Faith!  God has overcome and He will see you through this journey.

Key word: Journey

Adoption is NOT a destination.  It is a journey.  It does not end with the baby or child in your arms.  Adoption is ongoing.

I imagined the call, the match, being at the delivery.  Holding my child while Phil holds me.  Bringing the baby home with the kiddos cheering at the door.  Sharing pictures with the birth mom.  I had it all planned out. (and God laughs)

Nothing went according to plan.  But it was all planned out by God and that is all that mattered.

It wasn’t long before Jacob was done with his lesson and back in the car.  It was 1pm and we were going to head straight to the hospital to meet our little girl.  I didn’t dare tell Jacob and holding my excitement was agony so I spilled.  “Listen, there may be a baby available so daddy and I are going to run to the hospital to check it out.”  We had so many disappointments and a total of 4 failed adoptions that it started wearing on the kiddos- I couldn’t be completely open.  But I couldn’t hide it either.

The phone rang again as I was driving.  “Tina” it said.  “So, there’s been a development. . .” My heart sank.  We’ve had these let downs so many times and I held my breath for a moment.  We couldn’t come up to the hospital right away because the baby was in the critical part of the NICU and another baby was being taken off of life support.  They were going to close that section to visitors and other parents while the parents of that sweet baby grieved and said goodbye.

“Oh my heart.  You know I know what that’s like.”  So we agreed to wait until dinner time to head up.  I was elated to meet our girl.  But I was dying inside as all of our sorrow seemed to surface in that one sentence given.

William

William was our second child.  Born and given as a complete surprise to us, his life on this earth was short.  Being infertile and finally conceiving with the help of fertility drugs, I had no idea I could conceive on my own.  Well, welcome to the story of William.

William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  The condition went undiagnosed so when we finally learned of his illness, he had lost his major organs and we eventually decided to take him off of life support.  The very thing this poor family was enduring had already been on our doorstep.  How horrible that one of my greatest days was their worst.  My heart broke for them.

The clock was closing in on 6 pm when we finally arrived at the hospital.  Our experience with our failed adoptions at the hospital did not go well. . .so we were nervous.  Telling ourselves not to get excited our stomachs were in knots.

Poor Phil was suffering from a nasty sinus infection and had just started antibiotics.  So we decided he would not enter the NICU.  That was hard for me.  Not only did we miss the birth, the birth mom, etc. . .we would also not meet our daughter together.  Phil wouldn’t even see her for 2 days.

We had no idea what being in another NICU since William would do to us.  But much like we imagined upon the security doors opening. . .the stench of the sterile environment hit hard.

Tina, the hospital’s Social worker and I entered.

As I was rolling up my sleeves, a stranger approached with tears in her eyes.  She worked at the adoption agency and had heard about our heartbreaking journey.  Emotions overcame her as she hugged me and offered her congratulations.  Was this really happening?

Soap, lather, scrub. . .all while singing “Happy Birthday to you” in my head. . .I washed my hands, my arms and back down to my hands again.  It was time.

I stopped at the nurses station for a moment for them to get my signature and drivers license, and then a nurse led me to a little ohio bed.

There she was.  We found her!  We finally found her!  We found Ava!

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avahand2“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. . .”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

in Pursuit of. . .YOU. . .

     My phone rang as I held open the door to the pediatrician’s office for my two little girls.  Annual check up’s and flu shots were on the docket.  The girls sat down in the waiting room while I stood in a corner in complete disbelief.  After learning that our birth mom had disappeared and after a few days of finally settling into the idea that it was over- we suddenly found the miracle we had waited for !  A little baby girl was already born and signing would take place the next day in a town about eight hours away.  The agency owner hopped on a plane while Phil and I rushed home to pack.  We put children, puppies, dogs and chickens to bed- entrusted the kiddos to a sitter and off we went. . .continuing on the adventure of a lifetime.

Were we crazy? What if we got all the way down there only to lose another baby.  But the agency owner’s information proved to be a 100% sure thing.  It was real. . .we were bringing home our baby.

An hour into the drive, we stopped to grab some BBQ.  At first we were planning to simply drive through to gain momentum on the road. . .but then Phil made a sobering remark.  “This is the last time we’ll be going out alone for a long time.”  We took about 20 minutes to stop and really soak in the moment.

In reality, we started our journey three years ago with the God-given revelation that we wanted to add to our family through adoption.  As of those two half eaten plates of sliced chicken and brisket, we had already endured three failed matches.  Of the three, two of those, we held.  We held those precious babies and fell in love, only to leave the hospitals and never see them again.  One boy and one girl.

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The pain and suffering we’ve endured over the years since saying yes to adoption. . .the hard work with little rest to save up the funds and get our home ready for a little one. . .and the spiritual and physical warfare on our family and friends had been unmeasurably great.

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But for some reason, God paved the way and gave our hearts the peace to continue down this road- no matter what.  And here we were. . .about 500 miles away from what we thought was the end of this incredible journey.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

God knows our plans and He allows our scheduling and planning and calculating and re-calculating; but ultimately, He is in control.  And for many of us “planners,” this is a hard lesson to learn.  When walking through life with God, He moves and allows so that we may travel light with open hands.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Our jobs, our finances, our marriages, and yes, our children are His.  I wish I was one to just travel with a life of open hands as to avoid my Lord constantly prying them open.  But as many of you have noticed. . .I’m a slow learner.  I know where I want “my” life to go.  I just struggle when the Lord leans over and whispers, ” I know that’s where you wanted to go. . .but here is where we’re gonna go. . .together.”

Trying to make it to a little town near the Texas/Mexico border, we slowed down on our intake of fluids so we wouldn’t have to stop so much.  But approaching just 27 miles to destination. . .We were both barely holding on.  Passing by a rest stop, Phil asked. . .going 75 mph. . .”would you like to stop?”  (And here it is. . .the biggest regret EVER) “NO! it’s just 27 miles. . .let’s go for it!”  

Go for it?  What was I thinking?  We’re 42 years old.  Our bladders are well beyond “go for it” behavior.  But it was so late, and we knew we just wanted to get there.  So, the rest stop came and went and well. . .we didn’t.  We decided to “Thelma and Louise” it.

Seventy-five miles per hour suddenly came to a screeching halt when out of no where in the middle of the night, red lights began lighting up in front of us.

STOPPED!!!

To make a long story even longer. . .we managed to come across a little “conflict” between the police, state troopers, border patrol and two fine young gentlemen.

No, I was just kidding. . .I’ll shorten this part for you. . .

So, just at the time I was crawling over the back seat to retrieve our two “Dickies BBQ” cups to assist in my “let’s go for it” dilemma. . .the three rows of trucks in front of us released their air breaks and the bright reds began to let up.  Praise the Lord. . .we were moving again!!!

Now, since every patrol car was behind us. . .we may or may not have exceeded the speed recommendation for the remaining 20 miles.  Yes, I say 20 miles, because just 7 miles into our escape, we saw a gas station.  But hey, we already sat through 2 hrs of standoff with full bladders. . .what’s just another 20 miles?  Right?

Yeah, if you’re shaking your head, I’m right along with you.  But when you’ve lost feeling to your lower extremities and just praised God you survived a standoff. . .you pretty much admit you’ve lost all ability to reason.

Nearly convulsing, the GPS finally led us to our hotel. . .”turn right onto South ‘P’ street.”  We wanted to laugh.  We kind of did. . .I mean, the corners of our lips turned upward.  But an actual laugh at this time would have surely been fatal.

We made it!  Yes, we made it!  And we were exhausted as we fell into the bed at 5:30am.  We just had to hold on until 9 am to go to the hospital and sign for our daughter.  We were suppose to be back on the roads by noon.  What a miracle!


. . .who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:4

9am, 9:30am, 10am. . .10:23am. . .

Finally, a phone call from the agency.  “So, um, here’s the problem. . .”  Phil came around the corner and I just shook my head while trying to take in everything coming my way.  We had just finished crying out to God on our knees to please allow this little girl to come home to us.  The missed 9am deadline sparked our awareness that something was wrong.  We asked God to move quickly as we were literally losing patience.  And then the call.  The birth mother was wavering and feeling pressured to sign.  Something you don’t want to happen since being pressured can be means to over turn an adoption in the future.  Our birth mother was in custody and gave birth to an audience of Federal Marshals.  Not our place to judge.  Just our child to adopt and rescue.  With the birth mother soon to be discharged back into prison, she had to make a choice.  Allow us to adopt her baby or let Child Protective Services take custody and place the baby into a group home about 1 hour away since there weren’t any foster homes in the area.  Basically, an American Orphanage.

CPS was in talking with the birth mother so we hung up the phone to wait.  Only three minutes had passed when the call came.  “It’s over, CPS has taken the baby. . .the birth mother is hoping to gain custody once released from prison.”

We began to pack and quickly.  We didn’t even cry at this point.  Just silence.

The drive home was unbelievable.  Especially since there was a search stop to make sure we weren’t smuggling anything into the USA- and we had to explain the empty car seat.

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But the drug sniffing dogs smiled and let us pass and we started the long journey back. . .once again. . .with that !@&* empty car seat.  Yes, the anger phase.  I do believe we experienced all stages of grief approximately every 10 minutes.

We stopped to gas up and began to sob. . .then we began to experience Tourette syndrome moments where we’d just suddenly burst into profane song and then back to pure silence again.

There was a time when we both decided we just had to turn off the Christian music station.  It had become irritating.  No, we were not running from God. . .but in that moment of grief, we had lost our footing and just couldn’t stand up or even look up to see God’s sweet, sweet grace and love for us.  We were hurt.


 “In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.””

We face-timed the kids and with every bit of the power of God inside us, we smiled and told them very causally that the baby just wasn’t going to work out and we would be home with pizza very soon.  Even though we were sure this was a sure thing, before we left the kids, we explained that this may not work, so we were gonna just check it out an then be home the next day.  Thankfully- their little hearts were protected and a nice family/pizza night at home with mom and dad holding them and smiling made all the difference.  We had agreed to keep the emotions to our bedroom or alone in the car.

Backing up a few hundred exits. . .in the midst of our anger, sorrow and deep, deep hurt came a prayer.  A moment of thankfulness offered by our friend in the Bible, Job.  Job talks about while losing everything. . .his children, wife, money and health. . .he learned to cope by dropping to his knees and offering thanks and gratitude to God.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

During those final hours of travel, we had absolutely no idea how to carry on with our daily lives.  We were clearly heading into a sorrowful depression and the very thought of even trying for another child was completely out of the question.  We had actually quit this time.  We couldn’t drag our children through this, and we ourselves were struggling to make sense of our “foolish” actions.  2015-10-07 13.11.25

Did God indeed want us to adopt?  If so, why in the world would he allow this to happen.  And in such a horrible way?  How would we get up the next day and the day after that and say yes to another child only for it to be ripped away.

The answer came to us during the final forty-five minutes before pizza.  Because God did not give up on pursuing us as His children –  THAT is why we would NOT give up.  THAT is why we would grieve, and with thankfulness, stand back up and strap on our armor once again in this battle of fathering the fatherless and FIGHT for not just “our” child, but “His” child.  This is HIS child that He created.  He thought up this child’s personality, soul, looks, and just who would deliver and raise this child.  Every child is created with a purpose by God.  Every single one is special and loved beyond measure.  And every single being is pursued by a passionate God who loves so much, that in order to save. . .he sent His son to rescue so we could be adopted.

“The Gospels record how Jesus himself spent the night before his crucifixion in unspeakable agony, allowing the anguish of his soul to spill to the ground through his tears and blood.  He pleaded with his Father, “”If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”” (Matt. 26:39)- Clayton King, Stronger

What if Christ had given up in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He asked for a way out, but asked for God’s will to be done.  His love for his children was so great, nothing could stop his sacrifices.  I am so thankful for this sacrifice.  For without it, there is no reason to live. . .and no reason to die.

And there you have the heart of the adoptive parent.  Adoption is hard.  Our adoption in Christ was hard.  It was costly.  Adopting a child is the mirror image of God’s love for us and how He calls us “His own.”  We hold His hand while walking this journey and because we are not alone. . .because He goes before us, we can trust in His care and guidance to ultimately arrive home.  This is His story.  We are just a chapter.

Our love for this child is great.  It knows no boundaries.  It is the same love we have for our other children both here and in Heaven.  We thank those who pray with and for us, who grieve our grief and who share our love for the Orphan.  Please continue to pray: Please pray for the babies that have not come home with us.  Pray the Lord grabs their hearts and protects them every single day of their lives.  Please continue to pray for our adoption journey.  Please pray for the birth parents of our children.  Pray God’s peace and comfort.  We know the Lord has our child or children and in His perfect timing. . .we will find them.

forgiving when they won’t say, “sorry”

I am emerging from a challenging season in my life.   I’ve been engulfed in waves of hurt inflicted by other Christian brothers and sisters.  For me, it seems easier to forgive the lost or unintentional inflictions over the stabs gathered by those who are suppose to be my family in Christ.  My community. . .my church. . .my friends. . .my loved ones.

One thing I know is true about being in a church community. . .if you have not yet been hurt. . .you most likely have not opened up your heart, exposed your true self and invited those around you to jump fully into your life.

The church is a hospital for the spiritually, emotionally, and physically injured or broken.  It is a safe haven of hope in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is where we can feel safe to open up, expose our broken and pray for healing.  It is also a group of sinners, just like me, clinging to God’s great grace and mercy.

I am broken. . .I am messed up. . .I am a sinner. . .I am a Child of God!

If I am a sinner and I am in fellowship with other sinners. . .just what do I expect?  Why am I surprised when others just like me sin against me?

I have spent many hours weary and wondering just why this kind of thing happens and what next?  I think relationships in the family of Christ become strained when one loses focus on God and projects that gaze on the lives of others and self.  The horizontal view overtakes the vertical view.  And when we take our focus off of God. . .we sink, we fall.

It’s funny, when I see those pictures that depict Peter who had been walking on the water with Jesus and then begins to slowly sink ankle deep as he loses his gaze on and trust in Christ- it looks so peaceful.  I don’t think this is entirely accurate.

I believe when we take our gaze, our focus, our eyes off of Jesus, we plunge furiously into the sea with waves crashing over us.  Head under water. . .we sink.  We gasp for air only to find water filling the lungs.  We thrash around violently as we panic in fear.  We fight to get head above water and we choke and cough as the storm throws us around in between swells of fear and doubt.

There is no peaceful slow sinking when we take our eyes off of the Lord.  No God. . .no peace. . .no life. . .no air.  Life is a struggle without our God.  When we try to make it on our own or fix life the way we see fit. . .we are simply gulping more and more sea water and suffocating.  The horizontal view bouncing back and forth between self and others is exhausting and a losing battle.

The fix? Look to Christ.

When we take our eyes off of our situation, the people sinning around us;  When we put down the cake at our self- prepared pity party. . .we can once again see God.  We can fix our eyes on His and guess what happens?  We rise.

We find air to breathe, we no longer struggle as we reach up to hold the hand that holds us.  And we can once again walk on the water with Jesus.  We have peace as the waters are calmed in the light of His great presence.

But what about the hurt?  What about those darts that hit so hard?

While many do not sin when sinned against- we often get caught in the sink hole of sin that is caused by our reactions to the hurt.  I have a tendency to put up my guard.  “You hurt me, so I’m boarding myself up in my little castle surrounded with my own alligator-filled mote.  Don’t even try to cross over to knock on my door.”  This hard exterior is the build up of hurt turned calloused.

We lash out at others and offer our view without care or concern.  I am more guilty here than I’d like to admit.  I could barely go a day without complaining to my husband or mom about what this person did or that person said to me.  If someone asked if I was ok, I was more than willing to share my hurt and  without care of those involved.  The hurt had now morphed into a full grown grudge and I wasn’t afraid to share that grudge like a well spawned virus.

For literally almost a year, my hurt and anger flowed like poison through my veins.   And it has been killing me.  I went under and the waves nearly carried me away.

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What do you do when others have hurt you and simply won’t say “sorry?”

1. Cry out to God!  Who better to tell your secrets, your dreams, your wants, your hurt, your sorrow to?  God knows me more than any other.  He created me.  He dreamt me into existence.  He knows my thoughts before I do.  So, instead of griping to my husband or gossiping to my mom, I can talk to God anytime and unleash my entire heart.  He knows all about hurt, about betrayal, about those who turn their backs.

God has been right where I am.

2. Look UP to God!  Wounds often turn self-inflicted when our gaze turns from Vertical towards God to a horizontal view of those around us.  Our self-centered take on the situation keeps us busy bouncing back and forth between you and them.  There really isn’t time to look up and spend time with God.  This is where the Grace of God hits hard.  No matter how many times we have sinned, fallen, quit and taken our eyes off of the Lord, he is always there for his Children.  Opened arms, his grace is greater than my deepest sin and He will always extend his forgiving grace to me and rescue me from myself.  His hand reaches towards ours and if we take His hand. . .we once again rise to the water’s surface.

3. Trade in your Fear of Man into a Reflection of God’s great light.  Hanging on a cross. . .bruised. . .beaten. . .battered. . .tired. . .betrayed, Jesus kept his focus on his father and his purpose on earth.  His perfect life and precious death is our cheat sheet in times of betrayal and hurt.  As children of God, we are to reflect the light that was sent to suffer in our place.  That perfect pure light named Jesus Christ.  He is the perfect “Adam” that paid for our sin; and our goal is to strive to reflect His light.  Knowing this. . .knowing our great God and his love for us, we can offer forgiveness to those who have injured us so badly.  We have done so much worse to our Lord than any man can possibly do to us.  We are not without fault.  Because Jesus took on our sin in the flesh and put our sins to death- because of his great grace extended to us. . .we can now offer as reflection to the light- our own forgiveness to others.

This life. . .THIS life is not about us at all.  It is about a Great creator and God that sent His beloved son to right the wrong that sin caused.  The great rescue to the perishing.  The great forgiver who forgives.  We serve our purpose in life when we give glory to God in all that we do.  And forgiving those who hurt us in this great big family of God gives glory to God.

I can forgive because God has forgiven me.  I am free to let go of the hurt because my savior died on the cross so that I do not have to hurt.  My hope and joy are in Him.  My gaze on the light of His face blinds me from all others.

In Him I live, in Him I rejoice, in Him and only in Him. . .I forgive.

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in the morning when I rise. . .reflection on a September 12

I stayed home that morning when Phil drove Andrew to school in Denver.  Sitting in my bed, cuddling Jacob, I watched Fox News as we all tried to piece together the reasons for a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center Towers.  My dad was a pilot, my brother is a pilot. . .I couldn’t for the life of me understand why.  We made our way downstairs to the living room and I opened the TV cabinet doors to a world as I had known it falling apart.

Watching  the second plane hit.  Chills traveled down my neck.  I immediately picked up the phone and asked Phil if he was listening to the news.  “Go get Andrew and get home.”  Denver is a big city.  During that hour, we didn’t know what was happening other than it was evident that this was intentional and we had no idea what city, plane, building, or field was next.

Over the course of two more planes and loss of life, I joined many in our nation as I searched the house for our American Flag.  I see it in a slow motion play back as my husband made his way home with Andrew.  Neighbors on a busy block hanging our stars and stripes on poles, sides of homes and mail boxes.  As I tacked up my last moments of freedom as we knew it back then, I wondered if this was how my Great Grandparents felt in Germany. . .or my Grandparents felt during Pearl Harbor.

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Even my own children do not know the reality of the loss of that day.

 The freedom we said goodbye to. . .the thousands of lives taken. . .the trauma and pain of generations past and to come in the moment that will forever simply be defined as 9/11.

The silence in the sky in the days to come was both scary and sad.  Our flight path nestled in the foothills that always left the sky painted with Airplane art was now clear and still.  There was an uncertainty in the air.  But God was there.

Today, I took a moment in our Homeschool day to reflect on our America before, during and after that fateful day.  I previewed a documentary on the “Falling Guy.”  A picture taken in a single moment capturing the leap of a man from his torture to his imminent death.

My children weren’t in the room with me as I cried and gasped and sobbed.  Have we forgotten who we were?  Have we heard the term 9/11 so often that it’s just another Historical lesson?  Are these people we watched perish even real to us?

Is 9/11 really real to you?  To your children?

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When it isn’t real to you- it won’t move you.  And if it doesn’t move you- then your life cannot change.

 You remain the same.

Like the death of Christ. . .when we really take in the depths of intense suffering and what that sacrifice did for us, we then can reflect on the ugly. . .such as Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection- it becomes real.  It moves us and we are changed from life old to the new.

While watching the man falling to his death from the tower- I also watched the horror of by standers watching as I did. . .hand over our mouths, crying, and saying, “Oh my God.”  The heat from the fire- the burning skin- the lack of oxygen was so intense that for some the leap out of a window proved to be the only relief.  For those of us watching the devastation that day, our hearts literally hurt in our helplessness.

It was so profound to see such loss of life in such great numbers.  Good people were lost that day.  Innocent people were lost that day.  It moved many to change laws, to review our way of living.  We FELT it. . .and it changed us.

When waving to a neighbor in our small country town- When passing a school bus full- when finding a seat on a full flight. . .we glance at faces and let them go.  Do we dare ask them if they know Jesus?  Do we care?  Do we stand there with hand on mouth, tears in our eyes, and say “Oh my God” you need to hear about Jesus and the way to Heaven.

It’s not real to us is it?  Death and the life after just isn’t real enough to motivate us to get up. . .talk to others about Christ and in an hour of desperation, love and helplessness. . .we should be tripping over each other to spread the word.  The warning that there is a day when this life will pass and those not in Christ will suffer immense torture.  Why are we watching these people figuratively “leaping” to their deaths without sorrow?  Do we care?


My husband and I are in the process of adopting.  We have a love for a child we have never met.  There is a burning in my heart for the orphan, the lost child. . .the one who needs to know they have an adoptive parent more loving than I that wants to rescue them. . .love them and one day take them home.

It is urgent to spread the word.  Perhaps because I’m getting older and life is seemly shorter and flying by me.  The GOOD NEWS of the Gospel.  That through the trials of this broken world, there is a God that loves us unmeasurably; and He has made a way for us to live with him in Paradise forever.  It is because of this good news that we can face the end of this world, knowing the next is better!

There is a world full of good people perishing. . .so why do we stand still?

For me. . .waking up on September 12 seemed hopeless.  It was the first morning of many mornings after.  As after the death of our own child. . .you learn to first open your eyes. . .you tell yourself to breathe and then you cry out to God to walk you through the day.  There can be joy found even in this broken world.  The Hopeless is replaced with Jesus, our hope in a desperate time of need.  He is our joy and our reason for the journey.

Many mornings in still full consciousness- before I open my eyes- the words from that song run through my head. . .”in the morning when I rise…in the morning. . .when I rise. . .in the morning when I rise. . .

Give Me Jesus